TOP TRENDING

According to a leading vaccine scientist, the coronavirus can only come from an animal through a "freak of nature".


A team of scientists has provided evidence that the pandemic virus is “unique to infect humans” and raised new questions as to whether its origins were natural or could have occurred in a laboratory.

Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, a leading vaccine researcher who led the Australian team, said the virus was "not typical of normal zoonotic (animal to human) infection" because it had the "extraordinary" ability from the first day in the penetrate human body.

He said the virus should have emerged from an animal through a "freak event" by nature, but the possibility that it had left a laboratory cannot be excluded.

Petrovsky, professor of medicine at Flinders University in Adelaide, is leading a biotech research unit that will begin human trials for a Covid-19 vaccine next month.

"I've never seen a zoonotic virus that behaved like this," he said.

A team of scientists has provided evidence that the pandemic virus is "uniquely adapted to infect humans".

He told The Mail on Sunday that new viruses that are transmitted by animals usually grow stronger as they adapt to human hosts. However, for unexplained reasons, this new corona virus appears to be perfect for infecting humans without having to develop.

Pointing to the "coincidence" that the most closely known viruses were examined in a laboratory in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic broke out, he insisted that the possibility of a leak, however far away, was may not be ignored in the search for its origin.

"The impact may not be good for scientists or global politics, but just because the answers can cause problems we cannot run away from them," he added. “There is currently no evidence of a leak, but there is enough evidence to worry us. There remains a possibility until it is excluded. "

Prof. Petrovsky went further than any other expert to come up with the idea that the virus escaped from one of two laboratories that research bat viruses in Wuhan.

Richard Ebright, one of the world's leading biosecurity experts, also told the newspaper that the likelihood that this new virus would contain such unusual features and occur naturally was "possible – but unlikely".

Ebright, a professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had developed chimeric coronaviruses (new hybrid microorganisms) and looked for funding to test their ability to infect human cells while using them where there are no signs of human manipulation.

When asked about the possibility of a leak, he replied: “There is definitely a possibility. However, there is no basis for a high probability. "

Last week, the MoS revealed details of a key study that challenged China's claims that the pandemic occurred at a Wuhan animal market in December. The researchers were "surprised" that the virus was "already adapted for human transmission" and compared its stability to another corona virus that quickly spread to the planet during the SARS epidemic in 2002/04. Their results are based on the Australian team's study of the “spike protein” that binds Sars-CoV-2 – the new disease-causing coronavirus strain – to cells in the human body. The research, which was published on Cornell University's website but has not yet been reviewed by experts, used computer models to test the ability of the spike protein to bind to humans and 12 potential animal farmers.

It found that the ability to bind to human cells far exceeded that of other species. "This indicates that Sars-CoV-2 is a highly adapted human pathogen," it says in the question, "whether it was created in nature by a rare random event or whether its origins lie elsewhere."

Richard Ebright, professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (picture) created chimeric coronaviruses (new hybrid microorganisms).

Richard Ebright, professor of chemical biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (picture) created chimeric coronaviruses (new hybrid microorganisms).

Prof. Petrovsky said it was "very unusual" that an "exquisitely human adaptive virus" suddenly passed from an animal host to a human last year.

"This is either a remarkable coincidence or a sign of human intervention," he said. “It is possible that the virus was a coincidence and it turned out that humans were the perfect host.

"But we have no evidence of this because no one has yet found this virus in an intermediate host (for example, pangolin).

"Nobody can say that a laboratory leak is not possible."

He claimed that scientists are unwilling to discuss the possibility of botched laboratory experiments or leaks, since any backlash could result in research restrictions and threaten critical research. However, it is important to determine the source of the virus.

Prof. Petrovsky said that if Sars-CoV-2 were a natural event, another related virus could break out from the same source, which would have even more devastating consequences.

"The next time there could be far worse mortality rates," he warned.

He also highlighted the "furin cleavage site" that allows the spike protein to bind to cells in human tissues including the lungs, liver and small intestine.

A U.S. biomedical science expert who refused to be named said there was no direct evidence to support the idea that the virus was developed or leaked from a laboratory

A U.S. biomedical science expert who refused to be named said there was no direct evidence to support the idea that the virus was developed or leaked from a laboratory

Previous studies have found the efficiency of this cleavage method, which is not found in the most similar coronaviruses – although researchers modified the SARS virus in 2009 to introduce a furin cleavage site in a position similar to Sars-CoV-2, and found that it did Infectivity of the virus.

In the most recent study published on Friday, three German scientists highlighted the importance of this cleavage site for the infection of human lung cells. A U.S. biomedical science expert, who did not want to be named, said there was no direct evidence to suggest that the virus was developed or leaked from a laboratory, although "the location of the furin mutation acquired is quite surprising."

Another leading scientist said that a member of his team "turned a little pale when he looked at it".

An article by Yong-Zhen Zhang, the Chinese disease expert who published the first genome sequence for Sars-CoV-2, said earlier this year that it was "arguably the most important" difference between the new virus and its closest known relative derived from a bat by Wuhan researchers.

Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said the "evidence" suggested that the virus was a natural virus. "You would see signatures if this was a manipulated virus, and I see no evidence that it was manipulated," he said.

Last week, Chinese health authorities confirmed that they had instructed some laboratories to destroy samples of the coronavirus to ensure that work was not carried out in units that did not comply with global biosafety regulations.

The Wuhan virus laboratory was deregistered by EU Brexit chief Michel Barnier in 2004, despite warnings from French intelligence that China's poor reputation for biological security could lead to a catastrophic leak

By Glen Owen for Sunday's mail

The construction of the Chinese laboratory at the center of growing suspicions of the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic has been approved by Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier, despite warnings from French intelligence agencies.

Mr Barnier, who is currently involved in violent negotiations with the UK over a post-Brexit trade agreement, was the French Foreign Minister when he started work on the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2004 in Chinese under a joint agreement with the UK .

The move came despite strong opposition from French diplomatic and security advisers, who argued that China's reputation for poor biosecurity could lead to a catastrophic leak.

They also warned that Paris could lose control of the project, and even suggested that Beijing could use the technology to manufacture biological weapons.

Eleven years later, as the lab was preparing to open, the French architects complained that they were, as feared, ousted by the Chinese Communist government.

Mr Barnier (pictured), who is currently involved in violent negotiations with the UK over a post-Brexit trade agreement, was the French Foreign Minister when he started work on the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2004

Mr Barnier (pictured), who is currently involved in violent negotiations with the UK over a post-Brexit trade agreement, was the French Foreign Minister when he started work on the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2004

The role of Mr. Barnier in setting up the Wuhan Institute can be revealed in a mail investigation on Sunday about the French connections to the laboratory.

The website researched coronaviruses when the outbreak began in the city last November.

A growing number of science and security experts are now questioning the Chinese government's claim that the virus comes from a wildlife market in Wuhan, and Beijing's refusal to allow an international investigation only adds to the growing suspicion.

Last week on Sunday, The Mail revealed that experts now believe that the coronavirus has been launched by someone who already has the disease.

Biologists who conducted a pioneering study were "surprised" that the virus was "already adapted for human transmission".

Jacques Chirac, the French president at the time the deal was signed, pushed for the establishment of the Wuhan Institute after the SARS outbreak in 2003, which affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths. Mr. Chirac, along with his pro-Beijing Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, pledged French funding and expertise in return for part of the intellectual property rights to the laboratory's discoveries.

Jacques Chirac, the French president at the time the contract was signed, pushed for the establishment of the Wuhan Institute (pictured) after the 2003 SARS outbreak that affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths

Jacques Chirac, the French president at the time the contract was signed, pushed for the establishment of the Wuhan Institute (pictured) after the 2003 SARS outbreak that affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8,000 cases and 774 deaths

They argued that Franco-Chinese cooperation could develop effective – and lucrative – vaccines to prevent the recurrence of a deadly virus pandemic.

France is a world leader in virus research, but the Chirac government also saw the agreement as a way to build stronger trade ties with China than its western rivals.

According to a report in the French newspaper Le Figaro, institutions such as the Directorate General for External Security, the French equivalent of MI6, have repeatedly expressed concern about the lack of international control over Chinese laboratories and issues of "transparency".

A source told the newspaper: "What you need to understand is that a P4 (high-level bio-security) laboratory is like a nuclear reprocessing plant. It is a bacteriological atomic bomb.

"The viruses tested are extremely dangerous – diving suits, decontamination locks, etc. must be strictly followed."

Under the agreement, up to 50 French scientists were to travel to Wuhan to help the Chinese operate the laboratory properly – but they never left.

The Wuhan Institute went into operation in January 2018 and coincided with a visit to Beijing by current French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr. Raffarin, who have been appointed "Special Representatives for China".

The Wuhan Institute went into operation in January 2018 and coincided with a visit to Beijing by current French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr. Raffarin, who have been appointed "Special Representatives for China".

Alain Merieux, the French billionaire who, in collaboration with his Merieux Institute in Lyon, played a key role in setting up the Wuhan laboratory, gave up the project in 2015 and said: “I am giving up the co-chairing of P4 (laboratory) . a chinese tool. It belongs to them, even if it was developed with technical help from France. "

According to Le Figaro, a diplomat with detailed knowledge of the business added: “We knew the risks involved and thought that the Chinese would control everything and quickly shut us out of the project.

"We were convinced that providing this cutting-edge technology to a country with an endless agenda of power poses the risk of exposing France in return."

Their fears intensified in 2015 when China introduced a new policy of “dual use” technologies that allowed its armed forces to use any civilian technology for military purposes.

The Wuhan Institute went into operation in January 2018 and coincided with a visit to Beijing by current French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr. Raffarin, who have been appointed "Special Representatives for China".

Last night, a source from the State Department in Paris confirmed that Mr. Barnier, as Secretary of State, had helped build the Wuhan Institute as "the hand that signed the paper."

A source from the State Department in Paris confirmed that Mr. Barnier, as Foreign Minister, had helped build the Wuhan Institute as "the hand that signed the paper."

A source from the State Department in Paris confirmed that Mr. Barnier, as Foreign Minister, had helped build the Wuhan Institute as "the hand that signed the paper."

Mr. Barnier, a Gaullist conservative, served as Secretary of State for a little over a year from April 2004 to June 2005.

The source said: “The goal was to develop vaccines after the SARS crisis between 2002 and 2004.

"There was a lot of cooperation between France and China at that time, and Michel Barnier was implementing government policy."

The source added that a number of people have resisted the move, including high-profile figures from the French security services.

"Biosafety has certainly been a concern in agencies, including the DGSE," said the source.

A source of security services involved in the case at the time said, "The Chinese laboratories have not raised much confidence, but the government had its own reasons to do so."

The World Health Organization welcomes ambassador of goodwill, Peng Liyuan, on its website as a singing star … but does not mention that she is the wife of the Chinese president, given concerns over WHO's handling of the coronavirus pandemic

Emailed Sunday reporter

Peng Liyuan is listed on the World Health Organization website as one of nine "Goodwill Ambassadors" alongside former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

When she was appointed, the then director of WHO welcomed the Chinese folk singer's "world-famous voice and compassionate heart" and said she was "a big bright star with a large and respectful audience of admirers".

However, the other reason why Peng is so well known has not been mentioned – she is the wife of Xi Jinping, president of China, and leader of the Communist Party.

Peng Liyuan (pictured) is listed on the World Health Organization website as one of nine goodwill ambassadors alongside former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

Peng Liyuan (pictured) is listed on the World Health Organization website as one of nine goodwill ambassadors alongside former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

Peng (right) married Xi (left) in 1987 when he was the divorced deputy mayor of Xiamen City

Peng (right) married Xi (left) in 1987 when he was the divorced deputy mayor of Xiamen City

Peng, who holds the rank of major general in the army, sang in uniform for soldiers after they put down protests for democracy in Tiananmen Square – despite state censorship trying to remove these images from the Internet.

The revelation that China's first lady has played such a prominent role will add to the pressure on WHO that has been criticized during the pandemic, sparked by concerns over its current boss's close relationship with Beijing.

"The definition of goodwill appears to be stretched," said Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. "WHO should select people who stand up for the rights of those they want to serve, not those whose records cast doubt on their commitment."

Peng, who joined the People's Liberation Army in 1980, made a name for herself on Chinese state television as a singer of syrupy songs that praised the Communist Party and the rise of her country to power.

However, the other reason why Peng is so well known has not been mentioned - she is the wife of Xi Jinping, president of China, and leader of the Communist Party. Pictured: Peng Liyuan's entry on the WHO website

However, the other reason why Peng is so well known has not been mentioned – she is the wife of Xi Jinping, president of China, and leader of the Communist Party. Pictured: Peng Liyuan's entry on the WHO website

She married Xi in 1987 when he was the divorced deputy mayor of Xiamen City. She was appointed by Margaret Chan, China's first head of a United Nations body, who has since joined an important political body in the Communist Party. Peng was reappointed to WHO by Chan's successor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who also tried to hand over one of the posts to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe before the outrage forced him to withdraw.

Peng has attended influential summits and joined her husband at key UN meetings. She also met Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist who saved the WHO after the United States cut funding with rage over its pro-Chinese stance. Donald Trump described the WHO as a "pipe organ" for Beijing's interests.

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Messages (t) Adelaide (t) Coronavirus